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College admissions scandal: Is the system broken?

Parents may think the college admissions process is a meritocracy. But it's really a business.

As more details emerge about the FBI’s investigation into the unprecedented $25 million college admissions scandal, many are asking one big question: Is the admissions process completely broken?

Stephanie Ruhle, NBC business correspondent, points to admissions metrics and the focus colleges put on building endowment as two key factors that have helped create a fractured system.

“College has become a business and because of that, it can be gamed,” Ruhle said on TODAY.

“Every year, deans of admissions are pushed: ‘Did you increase the number of applicants? Did you decrease the acceptance rate?’" says Ruhle, who also anchors "MSNBC Live with Stephanie Ruhle" and "MSNBC Live with Velshi & Ruhle." "And it’s an institutional priority for colleges and universities to look for students that are going to have a philanthropic family that could give to that school.”

Ruhle adds that while it’s legal for a family to make a million-dollar donation to a school in return for assistance — such as a meeting with the school’s development office to help guide a student’s application — it’s completely unethical.

The parents charged in the scandal allegedly “gamed the system,” says Ruhle. “And it’s twisted because they robbed even their own kids of that process.”

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While the FBI investigation suggests that the school admissions process is not the meritocracy it is supposed to be, Ruhle suggests one fix.

“People should write their own essays. You should get to spend time with admissions officers,” she said. “We have to find a way to personalize it again. Because you want diversity. You want kids that have a different perspective.”

And for parents who are so worried about getting their kids into elite schools? Don’t be, says Ruhle.

Rather, find a school that is a right fit for your child. There are more than 5,000 in the country to choose from.

“If you are cheating on the SATs so your son or daughter can get into Yale, what do you think it’s going to be like for them when they show up to Yale and they should be at a completely different school?” says Ruhle. “They robbed their kid of that chance.”